Family Vacations & Staycations

I had hoped to get a post up last night detailing how I make my double layer pumpkin cheesecake, which is Tadd’s favorite thing ever and something I usually make several times between Halloween and Thanksgiving.  However, my work Thanksgiving potluck was canceled (bummer!), so I no longer had a reason to make it, and I have been so busy getting ready for my mother-in-law’s visit that I needed one less thing on my plate anyways.  So that post will have to wait for another time.

But I CAN talk about how excited I am that my mother-in-law Peggy is coming to visit tonight!  I know people often complain about their mothers-in-law, but I really lucked out with mine.  She is sweet and easygoing, and we always manage have fun and make some fantastic memories when we are together.  We take turns each year having her and occasionally some of Tadd’s other family members visit us here in Orlando, and going to visit them in Tennessee.  But no matter where we are, we always try to do new and interesting things to make each trip memorable.

Several years ago, she and Keith came to visit us during this same time of year and we spent 3 whole days touring the Disney parks, doing all of the special events for the holidays.  It was exhausting, but fun!

Check out Keith's long hair!

The following year, in the springtime, right around my birthday, we visited Tennessee.  On that trip we took a side trip to Pigeon Forge and visited Dollywood!  And the following day, we got a tiny taste of Gatlinburg (which I kind of fell in love with).  We also went to The Lost Sea, which is an underground lake in a cave in Sweetwater, TN.

Peggy, Keith, Tadd, and Tadd's uncle shooting water guns at innocent passers-by on the River Battle ride in Dollywood.

The following year, Peggy, Keith, and Tadd’s two uncles came to visit around Halloween time.  We rented a cabin at Fort Wilderness and spent four lovely days at Walt Disney World, doing Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival.  We all LOVED the cabin and had an amazing time!

This was the deck of our cabin. I cannot say enough good things about the cabins at Ft. Wilderness! If you are coming to Disney with a family larger than 4, this is the way to go!

Yes, we wore matching shirts to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! They each had a different character in a Halloween costume on them. Mine was Minnie dressed as a witch!

We were planning on going to visit Tennessee for Thanksgiving the following year, but we bought our house and closed on November 16, almost exactly two years ago!  So we were busy moving/unpacking/painting and all that fun stuff.  So Peggy, her boyfriend, and Keith drove down for a very brief trip over Thanksgiving weekend.  There wasn’t much time for sightseeing that year, but it was nice to at least have the holiday together and to get to show them our new house.

Last year, it was finally our turn to go up to Tennessee to visit, and we decided to go the 2nd week in October in the hopes of seeing some fall color in the mountains.  We spent part of the week renting a cabin in Gatlinburg, which was just amazing.  We used Mountain Laurel Chalets to rent our cabin and couldn’t have been happier.  If you are interested in a mountain vacation, you need to check out this property management company!  We stayed at the Lucky D Lodge, which was inexpensive and SO roomy and nice!  We did a lot of fun stuff, including a chair lift to the top of Crockett Mountain, touring the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, visiting the Gatlinburg craft fair, and a beautiful ride through Smoky Mountain National Park.

You can see a lot of the beautiful mountain pics we took from that trip in this post.

We have a lot of fun stuff planned for this year’s family visit, which starts tonight!  Tadd and I both have the next week off of work, so we are psyched to get through the work day so we can start celebrating!  I can’t wait to just relax and have fun spending time together and making some more memories as a family.

Let the staycation begin!